arbitration approach

The Arbitrator’s Role

An arbitrator is, effectively, a judge chosen by the parties to decide issues agreed upon by the parties. Typically, the arbitrator’s decision is final, and no appeal is permitted. The powers, duties and jurisdiction of arbitrators differ from a civil court judge who derives authority from the state.

The Arbitrator’s Authority

As parties choose an arbitrator/s to hear their case, so they must give the arbitrator/s the authority to do so. The powers of an arbitrator originate from the agreement of the parties subject to the limits provided by the applicable law. Such powers also include any additional powers that may be conferred by the operation of law.

In the arbitration agreement, the parties may directly agree on the powers they wish the arbitrator to exercise. An indirect conferment of powers takes place when the arbitration is conducted according to institutional rules of arbitration. After being incorporated into the arbitration agreement or the arbitration clause, these rules then become the part of the agreement of the parties. These rules confer certain express powers upon the arbitrator.

The Advocate’s Role in Arbitration

Litigation styles, skills and strategies that are effective for a civil action in court will likely be effective in arbitration. Arbitration, however, is different, and an advocate’s approach must be altered accordingly. Below are some important areas of focus:

  • Select the right arbitrator,
  • Identify the applicable rules,
  • Identify witnesses and evidence early,
  • Plan early for discovery,
  • Prepare for the initial pre-hearing conference,
  • Work with opposing counsel on a Scheduling and Procedures Order,
  • Modify trial presentation approach to present your case most effectively and expeditiously.

What I Bring to the Process

Prior to becoming an arbitrator, I served as an advocate in scores of arbitrations and oversaw hundreds of others. I have worked with many stellar arbitrators and some at the other end of the spectrum. I know what I expect of a good arbitrator, have talked to many advocates about what makes a good arbitrator and possess the following skills and experience that make me effective in this role:

  • Extensive experience running arbitration hearings,
  • Excellent listening, analytic, and reasoning skills,
  • Broad and deep legal knowledge and experience,
  • Outstanding writing ability,
  • The intellectual capacity and curiosity to quickly absorb complex matters,
  • The ability to cast aside personal biases and decide a case on its merits.

My Commitment to You

I will work diligently and vigorously to provide the parties an effective forum for resolving their dispute. My work begins the moment I am hired or appointed. In every case, I will:

  • Carefully read everything submitted and thoroughly understand the issues,
  • Establish realistic procedural rules and timetables,
  • Be respectful of the parties but retain control of the process,
  • Allow the advocates to fully present their respective cases, remaining mindful that arbitration is supposed to be expeditious,
  • Issue clear, well-reasoned, timely awards.